by Audrey Steele, L.Ac., DOM
When you see the word ‘wellness’, what images come to mind? Actually, the more important question should be: What is YOUR personal definition of ‘wellness’? I recently celebrated my B-Earthday, and a very special gift given to me was the gift of personal time and self-care, with no demands placed on me by the ‘outside world’. For over a week, I was without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked-In, email, or cell-phone. Actually the cell phone was on stand-by (for other people’s emergencies – I say “other people’s emergencies” because I realized a long time ago that as long as I was at the beck and call of those around me, I would never really commit time to care for myself because I was always called in to put out fires or listen to their latest personal crisis). This may sound cold to some of you, but for those of us who call ourselves caregivers, it is the unfortunate truth. The term “caregiver burnout” may even sound personal and familiar to you. And so for many years I would take the week of my birthday off, grab my passport and backpack, & disappear to some foreign country (to the worry of my dear mother). It was the only way I could get some ‘me’ time: to unplug, recharge, pray, meditate, be in silence, breathe, and to see the world through the eyes of a newborn. This annual ritual became a birthday gift to myself – the gift of health, and it never failed that on my return, I would be in a better position to be of service. This, dear friends, is my other truth: I have absolutely NO problems taking time off to care for myself, without feeling an ounce of guilt. Even Jesus took time away from His disciples and the multitudes to reflect and reconnect with Spirit….. Wonder if Mercury was ever retrograde during any of those times J?
Resolution vs. Revolution?
So for me – having a birthday in January means it’s the perfect time at the beginning of a new year to take stock of my life and reevaluate all those things we typically resolve to do on the 1st of January. I bring to mind all the people that have graced my life, the lessons I’ve learnt over the past year, the challenges and successes, my hopes and dreams. Like you, I make resolutions to be a better me. And like many of you, some of my resolutions become revolutions and I end up doing a whole 360º, having to repeat them again, this time with the next new moon. Within this past week alone we have experienced several significant events that stimulated either a resolution or a revolution:
◦ Venus (relationships; old lovers reappear; what/whom do we value?) thankfully came out of its retrograde phase (12/21-1/31);
◦ New moon (also known as a Black Moon; 2nd in 1 month! – sudden change, new beginnings);
◦ the astrological shift from hardworking Capricorn to humanitarian freedom-loving Aquarius;
◦ Mercury retrograde 2/6/14 (until 2/28 caution is advised since Mercury messes with anything related to communication so best to reassess before making any major commitments or purchases); and
◦ the start of the #ChineseNewYear – signaling springtime and the year of the Green Wood Horse in the Chinese calendar.
Application to Chinese Medicine:
Springtime in the Chinese culture is represented by the color green, and is symbolic for growth. Just like in springtime, the leaves/wood burst forth in bloom, everything is green, and life begins to stir after the sedentary reclusive period of winter. In Chinese Medicine principles, springtime is associated with the Liver and emotions such as anger, resentment, irritation, frustration and indecisiveness. When your Liver is healthy and in balance, your thinking is clear, you make decisions easily and confidently, and there is a healthy outlet for the emotions. To help your Liver flow smoothly, eat as much organic produce as possible, switch from the heavier soups and stews to more lighter fare such as leafy green veggies; detox if you can, exercise, and drink lots of water to keep that Qi flowing. A good thing to do is to schedule yourself a session with your #Acupuncturist to get the Chinese New Year off to a healthy start. With this Green Wood Horse year, we can expect 2014 to be a year of action, adventure and forward movement. The 2 horses pictured in this blog are of 2 of my favorite totems I have at home, for the simple reason that they are in motion and exude strength and wellness at its best. Like the horse, I don’t like to be constrained, I relish my freedom, and I find it hard to sit on the sidelines and wait for life to happen. This Horse year is perfect for me and the plans I have for my life. The caution for me (and you too, my friend) is to not be too reckless, impatient or high-spirited, and especially with the upcoming Mercury Retrograde period, take the time to reassess before making any sudden decisions. Yes, I am rearing to go with my dreams and resolutions for this Chinese New Year, and I wholeheartedly commit to this Wellness Revolution!
Mǎ nián dàjí! Best wishes for the Year of the Green Wood Horse! 马年大吉
Audrey Steele, L.Ac. DOM